LISBON--Client education, social media measurement and return-on-investment (ROI) have emerged as top priorities for the PR measurement industry, following voting at the AMEC European Summit in Lisbon yesterday.

The voting session, led by Ketchum research head David Rockland, followed a research study designed to identify the most important PR measurement needs, as the industry progresses beyond the Barcelona Principles laid down last year towards what it calls the 2020 Measurement Agenda.

Delegates were presented with ten draft statements. When asked to vote for the most important of these, three statements emerged with similarly high scores:

  • “Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit”
  • “Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement”
  • “Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs”

Delegates were then asked to vote for their four statements they considered most important. The same three came out on top with social media measurement (83 percent) ahead of PR toolkit (73 percent) and client education (61 percent). In addition, a proposal from the floor include ‘how to measure the ROI of public relations’ drew 89 percent.

The research study, meanwhile, identified ‘benefits of measuring PR’ as the most important need over the next five years, ahead of ‘impact of PR program on business goals’, ‘measurement beyond media clips’, and ‘social media measurement’.

When asked for their views on the current state of PR measurement, the highest proportion of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘global PR professional organizations should make educating clients about proper PR measurement a top priority’.

There was also strong agreement with the need for common ROI definitions, and for the industry to become more specific beyond the Barcelona Principles. Only 38 percent agreed that the Barcelona Principles are “the common set of standards the industry has been lacking.”

“Last year, industry consensus was reached with the Barcelona Principles,” said AMEC chairman Mike Daniels. “From that foundation, in Lisbon today 180 delegates voted on a set of priorities to ensure global industry standards are reached.”

The voting session followed numerous presentations and workshops focused on driving forward current measurement standards. In one of these, ICCO president Richard Houghton pointed out that adoption of standards has been slow because agencies have, traditionally, been unable to define a commercial benefit to investing in measurement. He also noted that agencies have preferred to use their own measurement systems as a “competitive differentiator.”

Houghton also pointed out that many agencies continues to use much-maligned AVE standards to “protect their fees” in the face of client requests for the metric. 30-40 percent of all PR campaigns, added Houghton, “are not evaluated at all.”